Deceptive Trials Put Libertini Under The Everest Radar

By Ray Hickson

She’s first-up, doesn’t appear to have trialled all that well, had a setback and it’s thought she’s a duffer in the wet but all may not be as it appears with Libertini.

Trainer Anthony Cummings (Pic: Bradley Photos)

Trainer Anthony Cummings has always wanted to set the mare for the $15m TAB Everest (1200m) first-up from a spell so that’s certainly not a negative heading into Saturday’s race.

Shortly after securing the Aquis slot the mare pulled up lame out of her second barrier trial and given the rain around it’s easy to accept that she might find the mountain a bit high – unless you talk to Cummings.

“She was a darling early, a little bit forgotten in the middle and still lives there. The first-up thing does that,’’ he said.

“I was very happy with the first trial because we were ready to run a half mile, to be on that track on that day I ran my own trial within the parameters I was looking for.

“From the outside looking in and not understanding what we were doing it didn’t look as good as it perhaps was.

“The second trial when Tommy (Berry) rode her she had an issue and that showed in the finish, not horribly but she was between horses and a little off balance and didn’t like it.

“Tommy said she didn’t feel confident so he didn’t let her stretch out. Once again she hasn’t been tested to the line in either of those two.”

An exhibition gallop under Everest jockey Sam Clipperton last week told Cummings things were back on track and he liked the way she stretched out.

Since then Cummings said Libertini has done everything right in her work, galloping a half mile on the weekend in “47 and change” and a slightly cruiser 48 seconds for the same trip on Tuesday.

“A couple of strong gallops since then have got her to the place she needs to be, to be effective first-up at the speed she’ll need to run in the Everest,’’ he said.

“She’s there ready to run her best race. She’s fit, she’s healthy and well. Everything has to stay as it was after her work Tuesday morning and I’m happy.”

Libertini has kicked off her past two spring campaigns by breaking 1:08 for the 1200m at Randwick in winning the Silver Shadow in 2019 and the Premiere Stakes, running down Classique Legend, last year.

Both were on relatively fast tracks and that’s something Libertini won’t have in her favour on Saturday. But is it the huge disadvantage that the market is saying?

She was a $6 chance in last year and is playing to her strengths with a first-up assault but was $34 with TAB on Thursday.

In six starts on soft rated ground she hasn’t won but she’s been Group 1 placed in Melbourne (soft 7) and recorded two thirds and a fourth on soft 7 ground at Randwick – that’s something like what is expected for the Everest.

Cummings said after drawing wide when she finished eighth in the 2020 TAB Everest, coming in a few notches and drawing between Eduardo and Nature Strip is a pretty good result. The rest is up to the mare.

“I think it works out pretty good. I think we get the run that we need. All we need is a bit of luck from straight to post,’’ he said.

“She hasn’t had a chance to show herself off the way we see her every morning and the way she goes about her work in trackwork but she gets that chance now.”